tv First Ladies Influence Image CSPAN March 16, 2013 7:00pm-8:30pm EDT
next, c-span series, first ladies. followed by highlights from cpac today, including speeches from former governor sarah palin ♪ >> dolley was socially adept and politically savvy. >> she was his best friend. she compensated. >> james madison wishes to meet her. >> she carved out a space for women where they can wield a great deal of political power. >> dolley madison would sit at the head of the table and erect the conversation. >> she got these people to the white house and entertained them. got them together and got them
talking. >> this was important to her to make everyone feel welcome. >> it was considered her classic look. people noticed it. >> it was a perfect setting for james and dolley madison. >> she sat side by side with james madison helping him. >> she moved back to washington d.c. in her elder years and became very much behind the scenes in a political field again. >> as henry clay famously said, everybody loves mrs. madison. her equally famous response -- that's because mesrs. madison loves everyone. >> dolley madison came to her service as first lady with experience during thomas
jefferson's two terms. the president often called on her to assist him. this sense of the usefulness of diplomacy all-out dolley to hit the ball running. she assumed the role in 1809 as her husband james madison became the president. welcome. we will learn about the intriguing dolley madison. we have two guests at our table. let me introduce you to them. catherine allgor, an author and biographer of dolley madison. thank you for being here. >> it's a pleasure. >> edith mayo was the creator of the first lady's exhibit at the smithsonian. thank you for being here tonight. >> it is a pleasure. >> any 21st century woman who
starts to read about dolley madison can see parallels to their own lives. was she ahead of her time? a modern person in the early 1800's's or not? >> that is the paradox. she was raised in a certain culture. she starts adapting in a way that paved the way for modernity. she also creates the first lady role that we have come to know. every modern first lady -- she opened the door for a lot of women. >> we are trying to show the parallels among them, how they handle things.
what are some things that dolley madison contributed to the role? >> i think in our first segment about martha washington, you saw martha as the person who protected the aspect of the role, the social partners to the president, and a hope to the nation. when you get to abigail, she becomes a political partner with her husband and pioneers that role. dolley is the one that brings the two of them together. she becomes the social and political partner for her husband. i think that sets all kinds of precedents for the future first lady. she is still held up as a standard by which other people measure themselves today. >> we will spend the first 35 minutes on those important white house years. it was such an interesting time for the country and we want to make sure you understand the history of it. we will learn how this young
quaker woman became an internationally known first lady and we will end up with her legacy. we welcome your participation. throughout the program, we will have phone lines open. you can send us a tweet and use #firstladies. there are people wanting to know about martha jefferson. they are thinking, what happened. we talked about dolley madison's role. what happened to martha jefferson? >> she and jefferson were married for 10 years. she died in childbirth. she was a little or when she -- he was a widower when he
moved into the white house. he needed someone to oversee these parties when both sexes were pleasant. it was thought to be unseemly. he would ask dolley madison. >> he did not entertain very much. >> he entertained in a private way. he did not have large entertainments like washington .r the adams of was the criticism? >> i think there was criticism. because he did not invite the women as often as he did the men. he preferred to have a lot of male company and conduct actual political conversations. he also did away with all kinds
of rank and protocol. he wanted everyone to be treated as equal. thought that was what it was all about. >> james madison and thomas jefferson were very close political allies. it is natural when jefferson is elected. i want to say something about jefferson's social program. it is not an accident. he was interested in securing his own political power. he had dinner parties with men of one party or the other. he would rally the supporters. then there would be a dinner party with the opposition.
that was all about keeping an eye on the enemy. the idea brought up about the lack of women, which was why her role in the jefferson administration is not the big story of that time, he had seen when and women at social events. he was horrified and shocked, especially about their political power. it fell outside the official power. he cut off all the events and the white house was open only fourth of july and new year's day. that was partly because he wanted to curtail the power of women. there was something else going on. that was dolley madison setting up the connection of networked she would bring to the white house. during the first year, the center of social and political life was not the white house, but that house. >> here are a few bullet points about the country in 1810.
the population at that point was 7.2 million. 36% growth since the census 10 years earlier. last week, it was a 35% growth. this country is booming. bursting at the seams. of those, 16% were slaves. new yorkst cities were city, philadelphia, baltimore, and boston. what should we know about the most important political events? what was the time like and how important was dolley in helping navigate those times for her husband? >> the first story of two was the union. the early republic, there was a great anxiety.
no one was sure this union would hold. people at the time would refer to the united states in the plural. they would say, the united states of america are. it signaled it was not holding quite together. there was a fear it was holding a part. james madison's primary political goal was unity. if you keep that in mind as we go on tonight, dolley madison's work will become understandable. the second thing i would like to say is that we know the end of the story. we know this nation will be a strong nation state with a democracy and a two-party system and a strong presence. that was none of the things the founders had intended. we look back and see that time as a time of growing pains. they did not know how this would end.
madison was the perfect person to help the nation ease into what it would be. >> serving as the chief executive of the nation, he brought the real concept of how he wanted the role to be carried out. how did he approach it and how did she help him? >> he was the idea guy. he was very theoretical. he and other members of the founding generation understood unity as a concept. it was their number 1 job. how do you do it? how do you bring forth unity? what dolley madison did is take that concept and translate them into action. she is an acting unity on to the national stage. >> how? >> the first thing somebody alluded to in the beginning, she brought people together. every wednesday night, it does not matter if you are the vice
president, there will be a drawing room. she put people in the room together. that sounds nice. this is about more than just nice. the early republic is a time of survival. the feeling of this union is exacerbated in washington because the all the regionalisms come together. these are people who did not just disagree with each other, but they dueled and fought each other industries and on the floors of congress. that is why bringing people together can treating each other as humans is not just lovely, but crucial. >> this concept is exactly the kinds of things martha washington and abigail adams used. >> it is very different from what they had done. theirs is extremely formal. dolley's was much more open. you have everybody in dolley's drawing room able to have access to the chief executive and his lady.
that is very important for forging a unity in the united states. also, dolley creates, she starts out as the wife of the secretary of state. what she is doing is forging a social network on which politics and diplomacy could be conducted in a civilized manner through the ceremonial forms of dinners, receptions, parties, and so forth. some of these tensions and animosities that played themselves out in the halls of congress had a way of being resolved at parties. in an amicable way. she is really forging new networks that will work for both politics and society. >> this concept you write about in several books, the subtitle
is, the creation of the american nation. you read about the fact that women of the class understood as their power to be able to use social skills to build the nation. >> the founders understood the american revolution was more than a political revolution they were going to build the world. that meant everything was under consideration. they were going to score and everything of the old world. kings and monarchy and courts. they turn to the women, and this is a political theory. it says that, in a culture, laws can come and go. what they call manners stay. manners are the way people treat each other and how they regard each other and how they behave. this is very appealing to the new americans. one thing they are inventing, a whole bunch of laws they are not sure people would buy.
they needed people to behave. the phrase they used was republican virtue. that meant people would put the interests of the country before themselves. how do you get people to do that? they looked to the women of the class to start enforcing national matters. these white women of the cities were very conscious of that. >> here are the phone lines. if you live in the eastern or central time zones, our number is -- please dial carefully. we will take calls and another 10 minutes. this is a facebook question. i will turn to you has a long time curator of first ladies. the early first ladies for
excellence riders. in what conditions are early letters? we saw thousands of letters last week. but what about dolley madison? what did she preserved? did she have a sense of her legacy? >> i think she did. she is writing to her sister as the british were coming. she is telling her sister what she is doing. so there will be something to put in the history books. she wants it known she is saving the documents, the important pieces of silver, the portrait of george washington, but she is writing has everything is being packed to go off to virginia for safety. she is aware of what she is doing. she writes a number of letters to her family members. >> i want to weigh in.
we know as historians, this is the heart of what we do. for a long while, to find the actual letters, it is really hard to do. in the 1990's, at the university of virginia, they began collecting her papers and published them in a lovely book. but there is now a web master of dolley madison, so these are the papers that are really crucial. mary writes about her aunt. a lot of those stories, which must have come from dolley herself, later in her life, she is getting a sense of legacy. she cannot intrude upon the public notice as a man would,
but she gave her these memoirs, which have now been published for the first time. people can read those. >> we have a video to show you struck the night. the place is important to dolley madison. it isou go on tour, called the red room. let's watch. [video clip] ♪ >> the portrait of dolley madison hangs in the red room. red fabrics complemented the fabric in her chair. she is an inspiration for that room. the room was in fact yellow under dolley madison. the red color was introduced in 1820's and 1830's. the furniture of the time is in that room. it would have been that style in
her lifetime. two of the most interesting in the room are the bust of martin van buren, and the portrait of his daughter in law. and the fact that dolley madison is connected to that story years later. when president van buren was inaugurated, president madison had died the year before and she had moved back to washington. president van buren was a widower. dolley madison basically introduced angelica to her husband to be, the president's eldest son. she became the hostess for the white house. largely as a result of dolley madison doing matchmaking. >> what condition was the white house? >> washington d.c. was a very
muddy place. abigail had written home it was a very dirty hall of a place she had ever been in her life. the houses were separated far apart. it is not like we think of it today. it is very rudimentary. part of what she is doing is building a social network amongst the women so that a lot of this is overlooked for politics and diplomacy and fashion. it can carry people over the fact we are not living in a fantastic capital of the world. >> questions. did they get along?
>> yes. she was there. this is one of the stories her niece said when james madison was courting dolley, martha washington confronted her and asked if it was true what they say. she said, i think it is wonderful. what is interesting about abigail is there is one letter in which she writes asking for a favor of dolley madison and now we know they probably did not meet. what is interesting is that abigail is adding dolley madison for pattern is, that is to give a job to a relative.-- is to give
a job to a relative. sometimes you study women's history. men will not touch patches. but their wives play pattern is the whole time. the whole time. the big answer for me is we learn things we would not know otherwise. you look at dolley madison. >> that was part of what was thought of as a first lady's role at the time. >> who were some of her biggest congressional allies of the time? >> henry is the famous one. the reason we know about him, it gives you a glimpse of behind the curtain and how politics works. leading up to the war of 1812, james madison was not sure he wanted to go to war. he was so secretive about it, scholars disagree. he had to walk a fine line. he needed allies.
he had dolley do it. he had famous stories. we have to look at these things as a form of political analysis. when the people of the time were looking at that, they were not just saying look at dolley madison with henry. they were trying to read the energy. she courted people on both sides of the aisle. that was a good thing about her. people knew there was something up in the air. >> our website is a very robust site with a lot of videos about each of these women. there will be a special feature each week you can see only on the web. if you go there tonight, you can see how dolley madison's snuffbox. >> she was addicted. >> this is one of the modern
concepts. the women patriots knew how to use their own power for the sake of our young country. wives wishing to please their husbands. >> i think these women were very aware of their place in history. you know you are centrally positioned to influence aspects of politics. i think they probably would never have used the term feminism or feminist, but i think they knew exactly what they were doing. they enjoyed wielding the power that was given to them. >> the first question comes from scotty in tennessee. are you there? >> i am calling in the show for the first time. >> welcome.
>> thank you. did she know anything about the affair he had? >> the big story for her is not helping thomas jefferson as a hostess. we do not know anything much about dolley madison. there is a story i read about paul jennings, james madison's body servant. the first person to write a white house memoirs. he was a slave. there was a story that dolley madison asked henry, name one of her sons after james madison.
she does not get the gift. >> a related question for michael. what was dolley madison's opinion of thomas jefferson and did the madisons ever visit monticello? >> i think they visited back and forth. they were good friends and knew each other for many years. maybe you have more information on that. >> is a little ways. >> what is the difference? >> is a little ways. when we talk about retirement years, the few times james madison leaves his beloved is to visit thomas jefferson. i would say we do not know the true opinion of a lot of people because she was very cautious. thomas jefferson seemed to love her, even though she is conducting a social circle under his nose and nobody hated like thomas ever since. the fact that he adored dolley speaks volumes about her.
hostess ins her as a the white house when he needed one. catherine is up next. >> thank you for taking my call. i know that dolley madison was raised a quaker and her first husband was a quaker. she left it and married james madison. i read stories about her father freed slaves and testimony to the catalyst of slavery. i was wondering, how do you think her upbringing influenced her as a first lady. >> i will cut to the chase. we do not know enough about her childhood. my theory on this is one of the central tenets of quakerism is to regard people as and god. that is why they do not use titles.
dolley became famous for being empathetic and warm. i think that comes from her quakerness. >> she was able to take on and do so well in this role was because quakers believed men and women were equal. you do not get any sense of her being lesser them. she fits right in and does her thing. >> the first white house allocated a salary. was it still that much at the time? >> i do not know. >> most presume it was. it was about $1.10 million today. that is a lot. who paid for all the social functions?
did they have to pay out of their own salaries for all the events we are talking about? >> yes. this was the time that was part of the deal going into public service. this is why rich white men were take it on the burden of public service. a lot of it came out of pocket. the medicines were not the first presidential couple to leave much poorer than when they came in. there was quite a hefty amount given to her to redo the mansion, which she did very well and spend the money very well. >> a furnishing budget. the previous occupants had brought their own furniture in many instances. when they left the presidency, they took it home with them. jefferson is one of those who did that.
this was the thing dolley wanted to do because she thought it needed a stately, elegant look. they took the decorating very seriously and wanted to make it look as if it could be on somewhat equal terms with the power of europe so they could conduct diplomatic negotiations in a proper setting. >> it sounds to me, there is a constant push and pull between wanting to be seen as equal. >> a real dichotomy. >> it is one of the reasons we look at women, as well. you have the revolution and the fight against everything it stands for, but now you have the
nation. legitimacy and authority? the only power they have is loyalty. we have strange moments and they go back and forth. the women of these families took it on. martha washington is lady washington. james madison is mr. president. dolley is queen dolley. that is one of the messages she is sending out the women at that time understood a lot of the beginning of that is predicated on loyalty. >> a lot of people called her presidentress. >> a lot called her that and queen of hearts.
>> who called her queen dolley? >> a lot of people. >> she dressed a queen. she looked every inch a queen. she bought a lot of her materials in paris. she is very elegantly dressed. she looks to american eyes as a queen. that is fine. she is not the head of state. she is walking a very fine line where she expresses the finer things to which the nation aspires. she is not royalty. she is always walking a very fine line down the middle. >> you provided a wonderful segue to our next video.
the restored home of the madisons and open for tours. put it on your list if you ever get to virginia. they have a display that talks about her dresses. we will show you that now. [video clip] >> most of the dresses we have at the visitor's center are based on descriptions we have of the way she dressed. one dress we own is a real creation of something we still have. this is typical of the style of the day. classical lines. it was much more simple and elegant than the fashion before or after. this is the style she would have worn while she was first lady. many of the dresses were more elegant. this represents what she wore at her inaugural. this was james madison's first inaugural.
she wore a simple buff velvet. she wore pearls. that was something more classically elegant but less ostentatious than the diamonds you would normally find in the courts of europe. she was setting a style unique to american fashion. a lot of people think she set the fashion of the turban. that is not quite true. it began in persia and moved to france and england. but she popularized the style. that was considered her classic look, to wear an extravagant turban with fetters on her head. people notice it. sometimes, they thought her fashion was a little too regal. there was one instance where she wore something with edging in her turban. people said this was overstepping things.
she looked too regal into queenly. they were afraid queen dolley was setting the wrong tone. toward the end of her life, she wore many of the fashions she wore in her earlier day. some of this may have been to evoke that american founding. she was the last living matriarch of the generation. some of it was because of the growing -- she did not have the money to buy the latest fashions. she had to wear many of her old clothes. she had several paintings made of her final days. she is often wearing the same thing. >> one other thing we should mention is for her time, she was quite tall. >> she was. she was 5 foot 7 inches.
>> i have an image of the two of them standing next to each other. dolley in her turbans and james madison in the style of the revolution. it does not work. >> it became politicized a lot of the criticism toward the madisons focused on james madison. this was a time where political authority was male. thomas jefferson, big and tall. washington was described as a hunk. and then this little tiny guy. he probably had his press secretary coming out, saying he is 5 foot 6 inches. he is not. size mattered.
her heights and good health led to rumors of her sexuality. the reasons she never had children was she was literally burning up. you realize things were quite serious. >> she was also during the campaign accused of having an affair with jefferson because she had been his hostess on various occasions. they extrapolated into a personal affair. >> were able to put that to rest? >> i think they were. he would not have been able to re elected. >> a question about her approach to this. the way that she dressed. was this a conscious decision to stand apart as opposed to
personal taste or vanity? she was creating a brand. >> yes. you have to look at the context. this is a new nation. we know it is very fragile. there is not a lot of bureaucracy or structure. that was delivered. there was not a lot of structure. people focus on personalities and on the figure of the person. we have all the descriptions of george washington. they talk about his grandeur and all this stuff. it seems like george washington is posing for statues. in the republic, it became descriptions of her on the move. it was a form of political analysis. she deliberately created this. she is not wearing what an actual queen would wear, but would wear an adaptation.
she put that on her turban to make for even taller. >> how would americans react to this? the newspapers had reports with descriptions of what she was wearing? >> and how did it was. >> were they proud? >> i think they were mostly proud. the federalists were a little put off by this. they thought it was a little too regal and court like. but there was a lot of discussion about creating a republican court. that is a group of people who headed up government but with the idea of having a republic instead of a monarchy. that is part of what she was doing. one of the things that is ingenious about dolley is she takes european influences and
filters them through a democratic lands. -- lenses. they give you something to aspire to as a new nation and how elliot and wonderful it can be. but you do not offend people who dislike the courts and the royalty of europe. >> she had a parrot? >> yes. apparently it was a terror and would attack people. she played her own part in this last moment when everybody throughout the white house, there is a white french servant, and he takes the bird over to the house where she lived long enough to make it where somebody is the victim of a nighthawk. >> maybe some people in
washington secretly cheered. [laughter] >> it is time to talk about the important decision to go to war with great britain. and the eventual seizure of the capital city, which happened in 1814. there is a dramatic story about dolley madison being in the white house alone and the approaching british troops. we will start with you about telling us that story. >> the background of all of this is they had been gone for a couple of years. there were rumors around the city that the capitals were the target. the washington city had an inferiority complex. the man in charge would say, they are never coming to washington. baltimore is the place. some of the british did march on washington city. that city is not prepared. she is alone in the white house.
the day before the last day of the white house, august 24, 1814. she is waiting for her husband to come home while she is preparing for the worst. she is writing this letter for her sister and running up to the roof looking for a husband. she is observing how badly the battle is going. she is also packing things, silver, which she considers the people's possessions, and she sends them away in carts. finally, the war comes and it is time to go. >> the british were coming. >> how endangered was she? >> if she waited any longer, she might have been captured. that would have been a huge prize of war. she knew she had to leave. she wanted to wait for her husband to come home, and then they reunited a couple of days later.
she had the tables set for dinner and the british came in and thought that was wonderful. but she saved the portrait of washington, which was one of the things that endeared her to the entire nation, a portrait. she knew exactly what she was doing. writing about it, she knew what her place in history was going to be. >> are you worried about the fact that this is symbolic because it was a copy of a painting? she understood the british could not be seen burning. >> a historian is trying to decide whether she was symbolic as they say. the admiral framed all of his threats towards washington. he was going to come and dine at madison's table. he was going to parade her to
the streets. he was not attacking james madison with rhetoric, but her. when he got to the white house and she was not there, he took things of hers because he said he wanted to recall her seat. the dinner party was interesting, too. it seems odd to have a dinner party one washington was an exodus. she was trying to hold the capital together even as it was falling apart. she intended to have a dinner party that day. >> she wrote this. "i must leave this house. will makereating army me a prisoner in it by filling up the road i am directed to take. when i shall write again or where i shall be tomorrow, i cannot say."
>> there was a great deal of conversation about should the capital still remain in washington, which was now destroyed? or should they move the capital back to philadelphia? the octagon house was only a few blocks away. they immediately began to entertain. in a grand style. this really sent a signal to diplomats in washington and congress and the people, that they were not going to turn tail and run, but stay in the capital. >> next, we will visit that house. >> this is very important for dolley madison's political career as first lady. the octagon is two blocks from the white house. it was a natural fit as they tried to resume government as quickly as possible. the majestic, elegant, spacious house was the perfect setting
for the events that dolley needed to orchestrate and manage in the life of the president. this is why the house is known as the octagon. it was a round room very popular in those days. this was an important room to welcome guests. it is a round room. when you are in this room, no matter where you stand, you are equal. this was very important for dolley to make everybody feel welcome. enemies or allies. the room is a good example of why this house was so good for dolley. she was known for her wednesday drawing room event. they had 300 people before the were coming. during the war, up to 500 people coming. the room could only said about 5200 people. it's still serve the the very important purpose. the country was still at war
when the madisons were here. dolley was playing an important role. she often had different people here, and poured members of congress would be seated at the table. many discussions took place in this room while she was the hostess. it was important to maintain a sense of decorum for the president and first lady. the business was going to go on and the united states would survive and continue. >> we have on facebook a question about whether or not she liked to mix people of various social classes at these events. >> that was part of what in deer -- edeared her to people, that she had access to just about anyone who was well-dressed were properly addressed, in other words, you do not have to be elegant or rich. if you are properly dressed, you
could have access to the family. >> there was discussion about boots. for some people, she is way too regal and too much. four other people, they look at this democratic reaching out and they are suspicious of it. they expressed their reservations are around the issue of boots. a gentleman would never come on a carpet with boots on. >> washington was a different place at the time. >> she welcome congressman from different areas. they pointed to that as a sign of her dangerous tendencies. >> this is a specific question of local history.
is it true she escaped the war on what is now madison boulevard? >> i do not know. she goes to bellevue, now the house you can go and visit. then they do go across the room and she spends the time at the plantation. she ends up at the house still standing now. i think the road probably reflects that. >> was she safe when she crossed the river? >> she was. i was lucky enough to go there. she could see washington burn. >> barbara in new york city is up next. independent. >> could either of your guests speak to a story i read about that she stopped at a store in
baltimore owned by a black woman and that it was there that she first tasted ice cream and she loved it and she served in very frequently at her social gatherings after that. do either of your guests know anything about that? >> ice cream and dolley madison became synonymous later on in 20th-century america. >> i do not know the accuracy of that particular story. i think jefferson was the president bringing ice-cream back from france. dolley served in the white house. where she found it, i do not know. >> is a serious import.
the story is not true probably. it is the association people tell me, she invented ice cream. she did not. what happens is, almost immediately after her death, she became closely associated as a symbol of american womanhood. her name and image get coopted by everything to ice cream hairpins, a sexy brand of cigars. she becomes a brand so quickly that the association becomes one of those things that people think she invented it. it goes to how important she was and how large she moved the im agination. >> and how people wanted to attach whatever their product was to her name and that would recommend it. she foreshadows what francis does in the late 19th century,
where francis's face and name are plastered on all kinds of products for sale. >> today, how has the white house approached that? louie in washington d.c., welcome. >> a fascinating program. i have enjoyed being on with you before myself. no question she was extraordinarily courageous. here she is, not just worried about getting out herself, but do we know did she ride when she took those valuables? one of the drawings shows her walking. how did she get away and where did she cross to get into virginia? >> why do i get the geography questions? i will say this.
she said all these papers, including james madison's notes. she takes them previous to that. at the last minute, she decided on a painting. there is evidence she got her servant to wrestle it off-the- wall and she gave it to two gentlemen from the york who put it in a car and took it away. something would survive and she herself is taken away by carriage. i do not know where she crossed. >> john is in new york. >> thank you for taking my call i understand dolley madison died in poverty. i was wondering if that is true and how that happened. i know elisa had lived from the corner.
i was wondering if they had ever enacted. thank you very much. >> how far into american history was it? >> a while. what they had was what they lived on when they retired. if you are wealthy enough to get into politics in the first place, you would be able to support yourself afterwards. dolley had a son from her first marriage. he ran through their estate. he ran up enormous debts and ended up in prison twice. each time james and dolley would bail him out. she put him in charge and that was a disaster. she ended up losing and living in poverty.
>> was she not a good judge of character? >> one of the great political guess she brought to a very contentious time in politics, it was a refusal to contend. she did not fight. it is not great when you have a son being spoiled. this was her blind spot. all of that would not work with him. i want to answer the question about elisa. they did know each other. in 1848, when they laid the cornerstone for the washington monument, the sponsors decided to bring the relics of the republic. widows were called relics. they invited by dolley madison and hamilton. these women were representatives of the time.
>> we have about 35 minutes left in our portrait. it is time to answer the question, who was this woman who became internationally famous and what were here roots? we visited her house in philadelphia where she lived as a quaker. we will show you that now. >> this is her house in philadelphia. here, she becomes wife, mother, and a widow. this room was a kitchen of the house. you would probably find her with her two sisters. she would often have her younger sister living here with her. as quakers, they did not believe in slavery. her husband gave free legal advice to the abolitionists society here. this is a dining room. this room was a multiuse room. the family dined here but they also use it for educational
purposes. they believe both men and women should be educated. on the table, there are books here for educating sisters and her son. in august of 1793, a french ship arrived in philadelphia it was carrying passengers suffering from yellow fever. anyone who had money sent their family outside the city and the successful lawyer did that. he will die of yellow fever on october 24, 1793. the same day john dies of yellow fever, dolley's baby will die, as well. not only did she lost her husband and protector, but also, she has the community watching her.
she has gentlemen who are interested for months. even as she walked down the street, all the men were stopping to stare at her. the quakers watched her closely. her friends warned her she needs to be aware they are watching her and she needs to be right by her son. this property is partly his property, too, even though he's only a few years old at the time. dolley has to contend with the scrutiny of the community and have to go to court to petition them to be the guardian of her own son because that was the situation. even though her husband had made her the executor widow, her brother-in-law has kept the property so she has to hire a lawyer to protect her interests and her own brother-in-law.
this is on the second floor of the house. this is where you would entertain your friends. one of the men interested in meeting her was james madison. he was a congressman here in capital city. philadelphia was the contemporary capital of the united states at the time. was an exciting place to be. aaron had been living in her mother's boarding house. it is aaron burr who let's turn now james madison which is to meet her. -- lets her know james madison wishes to meet her. james madison would meet dolley in this parlor for the first meeting. in the quaker community, they expected at least a year of mourning before they get married again.
it really raised eyebrows in the community that she was married within less than a year. she was very scrutinized by the quakers for that. the fact that he is not a quaker means she would be put out of the >> was she s well. warned? >> that's a little bit of a family scandal. she want to be virginia born e wanted to be- syhh red.irginian born and b her mother's folks are from virginia and probably her father's as well. john converts to quakerism and they go off and live in north carolina in a quaker community. as far as we know dolley was
born there, so she is north carolina's only first lady. what is sad about that she spends most of her life denying it. we think it has to do with her father's shady business practices, and they moved back to virginia. so she's raised in the world of slave-holding. >> her father released his slaves as a quaker. is that the cause of his inability to continue his business? >> i think he had other problems besides that. he couldn't farm so they moved to that chilly northern city of philadelphia. >> i'm not sure if you know so much about her thoughts on slavery. how is it that she reconciled herself to actually having slaves in the white house? >> i think that's a good question. i'm not sure i know the answer to that. but she did not free any of her slaves as her father had. and she didn't speak out against
slavery, so the quaker background there did not affect her slave-holding. this is why historians have a hard job. it's a real dichotomy. >> her father frees slaves and they go to philadelphia. for ten years things are terrible in philadelphia. children die. her mother has to open up a boarding house. she's pushed into marrying john todd. she has two children, one of them dies. then she's this beautiful 25- year-old widow. and you could argue she could have had her pick of any man but she picks james madison. it turns out to be a great pick. but why does she do that? i think it's one of those
moments where she said i could go back to the world i lived in but we don't have anything from her at the time? what we do know is by the time she's a woman in middle age and she has exactly the same kind of attitude toward enslaved americans that southerners had which is the inability to >> erstand them as humans. ffat about her quaker roots a aspect?at >> when james madison dies and doesn't free slaves, everyone begins to blame dolley. part of that is fine because she starts selling slaves as soon as she can. >> what about her quaker roots affected the kind of woman she became if this aspect did not
>> i think we're back to the empathy thing. >> the peacemaking. the idea you don't make war. >> do we know if she counseled her husband against going to war since quakers don't believe in fighting wars? >> we don't know. if you read her letters she's as partisan as anybody. she has the white house defensiveness. i think she probably supported him 100% in what he decided to do but her own nature was always to conciliate. >> here is a question from twitter -- how did dolley feel about women's education? >> what we know about her was she was a very well educated woman for her day, any class. we're not sure how she got there because she was a southerner and southerners did not educate their girls. we know from her handwriting that she was very well educated. she never had a daughter so we don't know what she would have done but i'm sure she would have given her daughter a good education. >> the quakers believed in educating women as well as men so she benefited from that.
she takes that background with her into the marriage and the first lady's role. >> on facebook -- what qualities did she see in james madison when he was so much her opposite? >> well, i think opposites attract many times. i think she was very impressed with his intellect and in private he was thought to be very amusing and very entertaining. and so i think that's the side of him that she saw while they were courting. >> and it's interesting that aaron burr provided the link between the two. you get the sense of these people who were part of the american cannon were a small community. >> it's a small world.
and james madison fell in love with her and was very romantic. he was in his mid-40's and had never married, which was odd. marriage is a very pragmatic business in this age and love isn't necessarily part of it. so dolley's approach to the marriage was pragmatic. he would be a protector of her son. as the marriage went on she fell deeply in love with james. marriage was a pragmatic business, and she had a son to protect and property to be managed. >> and someone who would do that honestly and well. >> and had a reputation for running his own family plantation in virginia. rick is up next in kansas. >> hello. good evening. you ladies are good. >> thanks, rick. >> two questions if you would. first, did mrs. madison travel
abroad? if so, when and who did she visit? and among modern-time first ladies, who might she compare with? >> did dolley madison travel abroad? >> i don't think she ever traveled abroad. >> diplomats were amazed by that because she was so converse and she was a diplomatic wife so they did marvel that she had that quality. >> and how did she get her
knowledge of french fashions for example? >> if you were dolley madison, you could not go anywhere whether it was a city in america or france without having to shop for her. also, very early on she became the patriot saint of the french minister's wife and she schooled her as well. >> she hired a master of ceremonies in the white house who was french and familiar with all of the diplomatic niceties shall we say so that he would explain to her what kind of food was served and what the french taste was and what french qui-- what french cuisine was about, so she had a number of people who helped school her in this type of thing. >> the white house staff is
large and all of this comes from the money that they were paid or from their personal wealth, all these extra staff and advisors that you talk about? >> probably most of them did. for instance, one of the things she hired as they called him "french john" away from the minister from great britain which was a huge slap, to hire somebody away from somebody else's household particularly when that person was in the diplomatic community was an insult on the one hand or a
great compliment on the other. and she was able to do that. >> a lot of resources went to creating the outfits. she got the bills and she was like "don't tell my husband." between buying the stuff and paying the duties on it, it was quite a lot. >> i wanted to ask you about the maryland component of this fleeing of the white house during the war. my understanding is that there is a house in brookville-- brookville, maryland that is called white house for a day and my understanding is that madison arrived at that house and conducted business from there and i wondered whether dolley madison was part of that or whether there was some kind of a transition from virginia to maryland? >> i do not know the answer to that question. >> that gives us another stop in this. stump the panel. >> another place to check out, the white house for a day you
tell us about. >> i was going to go back and answer or give my opinion about the second part of the question was who would she compare to in the present. and i would say jacqueline kennedy. i think she looked at imagining her husband's administration and recreating the white house for the stage for diplomacy through her renovation of the white house in the same way dolley looked at the white house as a stage and imagined her husband's presidency. so i see a lot of comparable activity and things that she was trying to achieve as was jacqueline kennedy. >> and jacqueline kennedy referenced dolley. she was a fan and definitely referenced her in the redoing of the white house. >> and she had to love the french furniture. >> with regard to the renovation of the white house, if you go to the white house today, can you see evidence of the torching by the british? >> there are places in the basement where you can see burned timbers. i know when they did the restoration of the white house, they found a lot of charred wood and charred bricks and so forth that were taken out and saved as remnants from the fire. >> we're showing some pictures of some of the charring right
now. >> you can see it on the trim of the balcony too. laura bush told me president bush showed the prime minister. howhow complete it was-- complete was the destruction? >> pretty complete inside. >> how long did it take to rebuild it? >> the madisons didn't move back in. it wasn't until the monroe's administration that they were able to move back in the white house, so i would say a couple of years. >> about 18 minutes and it's time to move. a complex part of our history and an interesting and long life to the retirement after the madison administration. james and dolley returned to their beloved montpelier in virginia and we're going to visit that place next. >> if you were a visitor you
would enter here and be shown into the madison's great drawing room. mrs. madison had many lady friends she would invite here. margaret baird smith and the daughters of thomas jefferson were all frequent visitors. her most intimate circle included her families, her sisters especially were always welcome guests as well as many nieces she had who often stayed for extended visits here. the drawing room combined many different themes into one. you see many of the faces of the great american statesmen, but you also see figures of classical antiquity. you have a reproduction of the declaration of independence. you have a miniature of homer, the writer of the great epics of
greece. then you have a painting of youths. this was 200 years old when they purchased it. in the way of blending the classical and american, they were trying to place the events in world history. this is a room where all the guests would assemble before dinner and have a chance to meet one another and converse socially and casually and then they might be invited to dine in the dining room. after supper the ladies would adjourn back into the drawing room and maybe play a game and be served coffee and tea. this was the social center of the house. if you were a part of the intimate circle of friends, you would be invited into the dining room from the drawing room.
here, dolley madison, in an unusual setting for the period, would sit at the head of the table and her husband would is -- would sit at the middle of the table. dolley would direct the conversation and james could engage in conversation with the people to his right or left. this table today is set for eight people, but there could be as many people as 20 served in the dining room. that would not be unusual. she considered dining here to be more relaxing than entertaining in washington. she was less worried serving 100 people here than 20 in washington. many important figures would be seated with them. thomas jefferson was frequently here. james monroe was here. henry clay. margaret baird smith. once, while mrs. madison was
serving at the head of the table, the vice president offered to do the honors for her and she responded, "oh no, watch with what ease i do it." and he had to admit she did it with unparalleled ease. >> and looking at their life when they returned there, how was it compared to when they lived in the white house? >> i think they were besieged by people who wanted to associate themselves with the madisons. many visitors in addition to -- political visitors in addition to family and friends. sort of like the washingtons and the jeffersons. everybody wanted to meet the great personages. so they always had people in the house with them, not only
relatives, but many political visitors as well. >> she was devoted to him and getting his papers together in that role. was she happy doing that? >> yes, at that point she loved her husband very much. that is where he wanted to stay and so she stayed as well. the descriptions of her at this time weren't the same. she's described as content. adam and eve in paradise. she definitely missed washington. she would write and say, "tell me all the news," and she would
complain a little bit, "i haven't been out." "keep me up to date and let me know what is happening." for her own self, she probably would have wanted to go back to washington for a visit but james madison was going to stay put. >> she was 49 years old when she left the white house. he was 17 years her senior. she worked to involve him when he was in the last days of his final illness. before we talk about her years back in washington, because she lived until the age of 81 and was very much involved in the august. >> i have a couple of comments about dolley madison's clothing and fashion and then i have a question.
there used to be a dozen at the north carolina historical museum and we happen to have some of her belongings, which includes the original of that red velvet dress we saw. also, we own a pink silk dress she wore while she was first lady. and what was interesting about that piece of clothing was when we had it conserved by the people of williamsburg virginia, tons found that the tiny bu on the front of the dress were filled with dried peas. so that's what her dressmaker did for her with french fashion and also as she grew older and her hair became very very thin,
she did have some real human hair curls sewn into her turbins and put that on in the morning with her curls showing and she looked younger, she thought. the way the greensboro historical museum came into possession of these wonderful items, including beautiful silk shoes and carved ivory cases, is they received it from some folks who brought a trunk at auction that was sort of a hidden treasure. and i want to know what these ladies know about the finding of that trunk that was hidden behind a wall. and i want to say it was in philadelphia. but i want to know how the person that had that hidden behind the wall got those very important things and had them. >> i'll answer quickly because i
dinner at a time and paid the sum of $25,000 to get this stuff. >> is that close to where she was born? is that where the connection was? >> the ladies felt like she was north carolina's only born first lady. you can go there now and see part of that. >> dolley madison returns to washington after the death of her beloved james. how does she spend her years here? >> she becomes the grand ma'am of washington society once again. because people know about her poverty but don't want to confront her with it, people in the white house, the tylers invite her to come to dinner on many occasions. the younger first ladies always
ask her advice on entertaining and handling large crowd of-- large crowds of people. so she becomes sort of an ex- first lady advisor. and that's how she happened to do the matchmaking between angel casington and van buren, the son. she's in the mix again and very much a behind-the-scenes player again. >> this is not a tragic ending. she manages to live a well-known and involved life. >> i think it was lonely without james. eventually, she sold. you remember this is her town. she worked for 16 years to build this town and the president's mansion is a symbol. it was under her tenure that the
president's mansion got a nickname, the white house. she can be credited with the nationalism around the end of the war of 1812. when she comes back to washington it is like the past came to light. she wore many of the same clothes. she was poor. but of course this expect makes her seem like a relic. >> was that her real name? >> it was indeed. though again her niece tried to perpetuate this idea that she was named dorothy. but she was dolley and trying to
figure out why her family tried back to the scandalous rumors about her sexual affair with thomas jefferson and they thought that was too common a name for her, but she was dolley and her birth is recorded that way. >> with or without the e. >> you see it spelled sometimes without. >> that's advertising. now the icon. >> john is in pennsylvania. >> yes, i was wondering if olley madison's first husband john todd, was related to abraham lincoln's wife, mary todd. >> i have no idea.
>> i'm going to say what is important about that is mary todd brooded that about. >> when mary todd comes to down -- to town a decade later and dolley madison set the example. mary todd tries to ride on her coattails. but she does not have dolley's sense of tone. she's tone deaf when it comes to that. >> is it true dolley's son from her first marriage gambled away much of her money? >> that and drinking. >> that will do it. >> yes. >> did he continue his relationship with his mother in later years? >> no, she did not. >> your question about dolley madison? >> i'm questioning what's the relationship between mrs. madison and mrs. polk and harrison. >> and harrison.
>> i think the polks became friends. people wanted to associate themselves with dolley after she came back to the capitol city and it was by association so the polks often invited her to dine with them and take part in parties and so forth in said we should tell people about congress awarding her a seat. >> i call this her iconic phase when she becomes a symbol. she's awarded a seat on the floor of congress. she's the only woman to do it and for a woman to do it. there is a lot of attention being paid to her and she starts to become a symbol even as she's living. >> did she avail herself in the
debates of the 234 congress?-- the 234th congress? >> one of the things she did for other women is that she would go to the debates and go and watch the supreme court argue and that allowed other women to do that as well. >> that was a way of bringing the women into a knowledge of what was going on politically so while they were part of this social network that she was setting up in washington, they could also be part of the political networks as well. she would get the women together and they would go up to capitol hill. she called them dove parties. >> debbie on facebook didn't paul jennings give her money at the end of her life when she was so poor? >> money and groceries, yes. >> you spoke about how she was writing a letter to her sister in the midst of evacuating the white house. how did it get posted or did she hold on to it? >> we only have this letter in her fair hand. so in 1830's when she's thinking about her legacy. she wants stuff from dolley madison. she's cautious. and she mentioned this letter, we don't have the original.
we have a caller: which margaret smith reproduces. there is an artical that suggests that dolley may have at heard the for his sake. >> that's a good pr move. >> pam, you're our last caller. >> i wanted to ask whether dolley madison had any kind of relationship with james monroe's wife who i know travelled in europe and i believe was born in england and whether she had any grandchildren through her son? >> thank you very much. that helps us set the stage for a future conversation d. they have a relationship? >> not terribly much new york city. they knew each other as plantation owners in the same area but they were not friendly and there were no children. >> we would say no legitimate issue as they would say. >> as we close here, here is a quote from dolley madison, we all have a hand in the formation of our own destiny. we must press on that intricate path leading to perfection and happiness by doing all that is good and hand some before we can be taken under the silver wing of that angel. >> she's important for several reasons which she does set the role of first lady. for historians we look at her and she let's us know the role of aristocracy in this great democracy, why does this matter? and i think for dolley madison what she's offered us a model of governance that stresses civility and empathy.